First and foremost, I am very happy that North Cross is alternative plans for the 2020-21 school year that include strict social distancing. I think this is going to be extremely important going forward until a vaccine is released to the public. However, I have a few reservations and points when it comes to how the school plans on operating.
I am also very impressed with how the institution managed to keep students engaged amid the pandemic. Thanks to all of the faculty, I have felt extremely well prepared for exams, and my courses have stayed on track. On behalf of all of the students, I really want to thank all of the teachers. However, there are some aspects of North Cross life that were not addressed in Dr. Proctor's recent email, and I hope that the school can validate my concerns.
A lot of the reason that families pay the enormous amount for tuition year after year is because of the programs that the school offers, such as Fine Arts, Global Studies, and STEM. I am hoping that there will be program-specific meetings with opportunities to stay engaged over the summer. I miss having GS seminars, and with the emergence of the Fine Arts program, I hoped that there would be some more.
Also -- the arts. Assuming we open late next year, I think we should at least solidify a plan for drama. Will there be a spring musical or winter play? As budgeting concerns arise for the 2020-21 year, it is important to ensure that we have hired somebody to direct the spring musical. (I assume that the athletic department is doing the same for sports.)
Those are just a couple of some concerns that I am hoping the school will address in Wednesday's Town Hall. Once again, I am extremely impressed with our institution, and our ability to proceed with online school (in part to the school's overall wealth and access to technology, though). I sincerely hope that we will be back on campus reaping the benefits of construction in the Fall. Time will tell. As for now, I encourage my fellow students to stay inside. This cartoon sums it up.
Recently, I was on a walk with my dogs, and listened to my favorite podcast, Freakonomics. The famed book author, Stephen Dubner, is the host, and I thoroughly enjoyed every episode. The most recent one is entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful.” Some of the segments were recorded pre-pandemic, but the episode provides some important messages. A big idea in the episode is that humans are grounded by the negativity bias, in all aspects of life. We see negative events as superior to all of the good around us.
This is especially difficult to resonate with during a global pandemic and amid many global issues. The negativity bias should not devalue legitimate issues such as gun control, climate change, racial injustice, and many others. However, I think this is a perfect time to look at some good news. This is one my favorite websites to find positive news: https://www.positive.news
The podcast also mentions a news-prototype designed by a software engineer employed by the BBC. While the idea has not been implemented, it made me wonder what censorship in this age looks like. The idea basically suggests that somebody could enter a keyword, and according to an algorithm, all articles with that keyword or that theme would be removed from your news search. You would also be able to tailor news to your ‘mood.’
To me, this seems wrong. The reason why I read the news is to be informed: the good, the bad, the ugly. Instead of trying to censor ourselves to certain things going on in the world, why not instead, stop viewing sensationalist media. My favorite news source is Reuters; they present facts, and they do it well. I think it is very ignorant to keep yourself from getting the whole picture, because there is value in learning the most you can.
In journalism, the saying “if it bleeds, it leads” is still present to this day. Who would buy a newspaper that is going to say ‘everything is going relatively well’? Headlines such as “new crisis,” “the most important…”, “the best ways…”, “the worst…”, and similar examples capture an audience, thus making money. But where do we draw the line? Yes, negative news exist undeniably. We are living in negative news, but, a return to the facts would help our world immensely.
I will always remember the first song I loved as a kid. It was Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones; now, this song is nostalgic for me. It reminds me of a blissful childhood, and every single time I hear the opening lead guitar, I cannot help but smile. I forced both of my parents to play this song on repeat in the car, at home and everywhere.
I often think about how the greatest of music is behind us. We still appreciate these legends and their contribution to society, but they are done producing music. Everybody knows that Ringo Starr’s solo career in the 2000s pales in comparison to his contributions to the Beatles, and it seems to be a universal truth that rock is dead. New rock does not have the same vibrancy and heartiness that the classics do.
That is what I thought wholeheartedly, until I heard the Rolling Stones’ new single, Living in a Ghost Town. This is their first original music since 2012, and I could not be more happy. Apparently the Stones began working on this single last year, but in light of Covid-19, they decided to polish it, and give it a new twist. In my opinion, this is their best new single. This song does not remind me of any past Stones album, but I love it. This single is bluesy, and it swings so beautifully, while retaining elements of a Rolling Stones song that we all love. The harmonica solos are especially unique, and one cannot help but listen to the song over and over again.
The lyrics are simplistic, but timely. Some lines really resonate with me, such as:
I’m going nowhere, shut up all alone / So much time to lose just staring at my phone
This is symbolic of how I feel during the day. Once I feel mentally exhausted after a day of online school, it is extremely difficult to muster up the strength to be productive. Instead, I pass a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through my phone.
preachers were a-preaching, charities beseeching, politicians dealing
This is what it feels like as well, and the Stones seem to encapsulate my anxiety. Every press briefing with the Trump administration hurts a little bit. When Trump continuously touts hydroxychloroquine amid overwhelming scientific evidence that says otherwise, it is difficult to be hopeful. It truly feels like we are living in a ghost town. I drove past Rivers Edge park the other day, and it was astonishingly empty. Then, I went to the grocery store to get some necessities for my mom. Aisles were empty, and the new system of living feels so apocalyptic.
What happened to civilization as we know it?
Here is one final lyric that sums up how we are feeling:
Life was so beautiful
Then we all got locked down
The Stones make the message clear, and it is simple. Before this lock down, we all took so much for granted. Life is beautiful and it goes by so quickly. It is important to appreciate what we have and embrace every moment, because now, we are living in a ghost town.
Covid-19 has transformed our lives immensely. This dramatic life shift has affected every part of my existence.
I never realized how special the small things are, as cheesy as that may sound. We take a lot for granted, but the issue is I did not know how important it was to connect with people on small levels every day. North Cross is a really special place; I am able to foster relationships with people from a variety of interests.
For now, though, I have to embrace what we do have. I love seeing everyone's face on Zoom. It is extremely refreshing, but it is similarly very upsetting when somebody turns off their camera. I love knowing my friends and classmates are out there too, struggling, but managing.
I miss assemblies, too. I dreaded the bombardment of announcements in the morning. It felt overwhelming, and a little superfluous, especially when the slideshow was introduced this year. In retrospect, I miss sitting in the gross yellow seats. Morning assembly provided structure to my day and week. Even if I was lacking in terms of organization (so, rare right:) ), teachers and administrators sought to give me a sense of normalcy. I miss that now.